The Neuromuscular Junction  

A computer-based, interactive tutorial to teach the essential physiology and pharmacology to undergraduate students

By: David Dewhurst, Godfrey Collins and Imran Shafiq

This highly interactive CBL program is designed to teach the essential physiology and pharmacology of the neuromuscular junction. It is intended for first or second year undergraduate students of medicine, physiology, pharmacology and biological sciences. Some sections may also be appropriate for health-related courses. It is suitable for primary learning, revision or as a resource to support other types of teaching. It should occupy students for 3-4 hours of study.

Learning Objectives: after working through this program students should be able to:

  • Describe the functional anatomy of the skeletal neuromuscular junction;
  • Explain the process of neurotransmission;
  • Describe the characteristics of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and the actions of acetylcholine at these receptors;
  • Explain the differences in mode of action of depolarising and non-depolarising neuromuscular blocking agents and the characteristics of the blocks they produce;
  • Describe the clinical use of anticholinesterases;
  • Discuss the clinical implications of using neuromuscular blocking agents.

Content: the program is divided into several sections:

Introduction: gives an overview of content and approach of the program;

Neuromuscular Transmission: uses animated stepwise sequences to describe synthesis of acetylcholine, transmitter release mechanisms, action of acetylcholine at receptors and transmitter inactivation;

Acetylcholine Receptors: describes the function of and action of acetylcholine at both pre- and post-synaptic nicotinic receptors;

Pharmacology: gives examples of, and describes the characteristics and mechanism of action of depolarising and non-depolarising neuromuscular blocking agents and anticholinesterases;

Clinical Aspects: covers the clinical use of neuromuscular blocking agents and anticholinesterases (particularly for treatment of myaesthenia gravis). This section describes how depth of blockade may be monitored, and the pharmacokinetics, characteristics, side-effects and drug interactions of clinically used drugs.

The approach is to combine succinct textual/factual descript-ions with graphics and to use features such as animation and hotwords where appropriate. Hotwords function either to define terms which may be unfamiliar to the student or to provide additional, sometimes more detailed or advanced information. Some experimental data, which illustrates the different actions of neuromuscular blocking agents in animal models, is also used. The program contains numerous self-assessment questions e.g. multiple choice and true/false questions with feedback, drag and drop exercises (to test e.g. knowledge of stepwise sequences), and clinically-related scenarios. These are designed primarily to promote and reinforce learning rather than to test students. Learning by this method is non-intimidating, is independent of time and place, may be self-paced and may take place either individually or in small groups.


Language Versions: English

Recommended System Requirements:

  • Windows:
    • Microsoft Windows XP (32 bit), Windows Server 2003 (32-bit), Windows Server 2008 (32 bit), Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit), Windows 8
    • 2.33GHz or faster x86-compatible processor, or Intel Atom 1.6GHz or faster processor for netbooks
    • 128MB of RAM (1GB of RAM recommended for netbooks); 128MB of graphics memory
    • Internet Explorer 7.0 or later, Mozilla Firefox 4.0 or later, Google Chrome, Safari 5.0 or later, or Opera 11
  • Mac OS:
    • Mac OS X v10.6, v10.7, or v10.8
    • Intel Core Duo 1.83GHz or faster processor
    • 256MB of RAM; 128MB of graphics memory
    • Safari 5.0 or later, Mozilla Firefox 4.0 or later, Google Chrome, or Opera 11

Price: £250 (multiuser, educational license)

ISBN 1-874758-39-5
©2008 Sheffield Bioscience Programs

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